the Delivery Initiative

More effective education delivery

Governments around the world are leveraging ‘delivery approaches’ to make rapid progress on results-driven education reform plans, but there is a dearth of peer-reviewed research on these approaches. Through a new research program, the Commission is building evidence, improving understanding, and generating policy recommendations on delivery approaches so countries can deliver better and faster education results.

Good intentions but poor results

In many parts of the world, large investments in education are not leading to desired outcomes. In 2017, former President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete and other Commissioners visited over 20 heads of government across Africa and Asia to discuss education challenges and opportunities. Despite large government investments in education policy formulation and sector planning, leaders in these meetings highlighted that ineffective implementation persists as a key challenge.

A recent evaluation of education sector plans found that only 25% of plans were considered ‘implementable’ or ‘achievable’ and less than half were considered ‘strategic’ in addressing root causes education issues. While strong prioritized education sector planning is an important part of the process to delivery, it is only the first step and significant work is required to ensure that an education delivery system is equipped to turn plans into results.

Accelerating delivery of education results

Governments around the world are increasingly interested in new delivery approaches that can turn education sector plans and policies into action as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Delivery approaches are any new government processes or structures that can improve delivery of education. Some examples include small, dedicated teams known as delivery units, interactive workshops called delivery labs, or other new processes developed by country leaders. These approaches identify and overcome obstacles to delivery while also seeking to measure and monitor results.

In the last decade, more than 40 national and state governments around the world have implemented ‘delivery units’ impacting a variety of sectors, including in Chile, Brazil, United States, Malaysia, South Africa, Pakistan, Indonesia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania.

Education delivery approaches have had important successes. For instance in Tanzania, leaders claim that their education delivery unit helped to increase the proportion of third-grade students reading at the ‘progressing’ or ‘proficient’ level increased from 23% to 36% during the three years of the unit’s work. In Malaysia the delivery unit (PEMANDU) notes that preschool enrollment increased from 67% to 85% during one year of the delivery unit’s work. But there has been very little rigorous research done on whether these results can be attributed specifically to delivery units.

In the next five years, even more countries are on track to establish education delivery units or similar structures. However, there is a significant dearth of peer-reviewed research on the extent to which these approaches improve delivery and what can be done to make delivery approaches as effective as possible. The majority of evidence on the topic is written by practitioners who are closely associated with the application of the approach, rather than independent researchers.

Identifying delivery best practices

The Commission is working to fill the current evidence gap with actionable, independent research on education delivery. We have begun building evidence in this area and are developing a robust research program examining delivery approaches across the globe and produce a number of in-depth case studies. The ultimate goal is to produce research that will guide leaders to implement the delivery approach more effectively, improving education and learning results.

The resource mobilization lab that kicked off this process succeeded because all key stakeholders involved were present, including the Tanzanian private sector, with key performance indicators that we all then followed. We jointly found areas that could generate domestic resources quickly. We surprised ourselves with the results.

I believe this same success can be achieved to mobilize domestic resources for education by thinking creatively and working in collaboration across sectors to look at different ways to raise funds.

Omari Issa
former CEO, Investment Climate Facility for Africa